Freelance Journalist Focus: Helenka Bednar
This week we talk “indulgent fun” with Helenka Bednar, freelancer and editor of iLoveMyGrub, who tells us about sampling Heston Blumenthal’s Eccles cakes and much more…
About your journalism:
What do you write about?
I specialise in food, but also cover music, travel and lifestyle.
Where are we likely to see your work?
I spend a lot of time writing and editing content for http://www.iLoveMyGrub.com, which I launched & founded in 2007. iLoveMyGrub is aimed at foodies, with a focus on ethical eating and covers reviews, features, competitions, news stories and recipes. I also produce copy for online advertorial projects, which have included Hellmann’s, Fox, Philips, Disney, Nintendo, Estée Lauder and the NHS. I’ve been a web editor for the last 10 years, so there are still a few pieces on LondonNet.co.uk embedded in Google. I launched MusicLeader.net for the national charity Youth Music, and for the last three years I’ve edited their music website for 0 – 5 year olds called http://www.BongoClub.org.uk.com. I’ve written for the BBC, Time Out, Virgin Media, easyJet, Ryanair and AOL, and focus on food wherever I can, across feature writing, online projects and copywriting.
What’s the most memorable work you’ve done?
Interviewing Heston Blumenthal for iLoveMyGrub.com was definitely a highlight: http://www.ilovemygrub.com/features/2008/heston-blumenthal-makes-things-sherry-simple.html. He was very down to earth, and we spent most of the interview talking about his love of sherry. I got to sample his cooking for that feature, and his Eccles cakes with Stilton and sherry butter were ridiculously good.
I was Guest Food Editor for Heathrow’s online Christmas shopping guide last year and that was pure indulgent fun. I picked out my favourite food purchases for the piece, which is probably what I would do on my day off. One of the things I love most about journalism is sourcing things that are really worth knowing about and sharing it with a readership.
What interview or feature would you love the chance to do?
I’d love to write something about artisan butters. I’m a complete butter addict and would probably have to be prised away from the churn whilst diligently researching.
About you and PRs
Where do you source ideas for articles?
A lot of the time a particular food product or producer sparks an idea. Recognising trends and tapping into them at the right time is a great way to get ideas too.
Do you find press conferences, trips, parties and other events useful or an interruption?
As long as they are relevant to what I’m working on, they’re always useful to know about. It’s usually a question of having the time to attend them. They also have to be worth the journey in terms of the content that’s going to be produced as a result. I get lots of invites to product demonstrations. If the invite is to taste a brand of cheese, I’m not likely to take four hours out of my day for it, when a sample could be posted out. If the invite is for a fondue demonstration packed with tips on how to use the kitchen kit, how to make fondue and what to dunk in it – there’s a potential full length feature, so it’s worth attending.
How would you pay the bills if you weren’t a journalist?
I’d open up a teashop selling cups of Mariage Frères blends, fat slices of home made cake and toast with lashings of butter.
If we gave you £1,000, how would you spend it?
An indecent amount of it would go on Valrhona chocolate and Melt’s salted caramels, and the rest would go on a camera.
What books are on your bedside table, magazines in your bag, or blogs on your screen?
‘Fighting the Banana Wars and other Fairtrade Battles’ by Harriet Lamb, and a pile of newspaper supplements are taking up floor space by my bed. I’m also looking through recipe books ‘Plenty’ by Yotam Ottolenghi, and ‘Ad Hoc at Home’ by Thomas Keller at the minute. I love reading the very knowledgeable and tempting chocolate newsletters that Jennifer Earle sends out through her site http://www.chocolateecstasytours.com. I’m also hooked on Twitter (@ilovemygrub) and digital marketing, and have just discovered @traindigital – very interesting Tweets that distract me from doing whatever I’m supposed to be doing!